What kind of response do those words elicit from us? Do we shrug our shoulders and think, “Everyone’s in crisis and at the risk of burnout.” Or do we respond, “This is a crisis; what will we do?”
Clearly youth workers are not alone in this. There are many people who are in crisis, hoping to recover mentally, physically, or even financially from the last few years, and we hold space for all those who are struggling, in crisis, and near burnout.
But as the Middle School director at Century Baptist in Bismarck, North Dakota, I find myself asking, what about youth workers? What about the youth pastors, youth directors, and volunteers who are partnering with families of Generation Z and Generation Alpha to disciple teenagers to go and make disciples who make disciples and influence the world in the name of Jesus? What happens when 40 to 50% of those youth workers and youth pastors resign in the next year because they are in crisis or at risk of burnout?
According to the 2022 Youth Worker Well-Being Report, “Recent data collected by The Youth Cartel and Jeremiah Project suggests more than four out of ten youth workers are considering moving on or have moved on in the past two years. This suggests that what Barna’s recent pastor poll showed is likely also true of youth workers: youth workers are currently in crisis and at risk of burnout.”
People who minister to middle school and high school students know teenagers need a soft spot to land, a place to go when the rollercoaster of adolescence is taking them on loops, spins, twists, and turns. Over the last two and a half years, while youth workers have been providing that soft spot to land for teenagers, the youth workers have also been looking for a place to land. The reality is that four in ten youth workers in the United States find that place to land outside of youth ministry, no longer serving in the church.
The purpose of the NAB’s Elevating Younger Leaders Team (EYELET) is to engage, equip, and elevate young leaders to lead the NAB into the future. But what if there aren’t any young leaders left to engage, equip, and elevate because they’re currently in crisis or at risk of burnout?
This is the role of The Landing, the soft space where youth workers can land after years of fatigue and constant decision-making.
The Landing is a space where youth workers can be encouraged through stories of God at work in the lives of teenagers.
The Landing is a space where youth workers can seek refuge from the storms of ministry life, find community amongst other youth workers, and build a connection to other youth workers in the NAB.
The Landing is a space for youth workers to receive resources for ministering to teenagers in their culture and context, welcoming all voices to the table.
The Landing is a space where youth workers will be able to take part in the greater vision of the NAB, engaging in missional partnerships.
The Landing is a space where youth workers will be able to ask questions freely and openly, similar to the space created by youth workers for the teenagers in their midst. Questions and authenticity are welcome; perfection is not required.
Who is a youth worker in your midst who needs to be connected to other youth workers in the NAB?
Who is a youth worker you know who needs a soft spot to land? Who is pouring himself/herself out into this generation of teenagers and needs to be empowered, equipped, and encouraged?